by Soo Jin Oh
SVP, Data Business and Ad Operations, Magnetic
Featured on Marketing Land’s Mobile Marketing Column, July 17, 2014
Although we are smack in the middle of the summer season, consumers are already beginning to think about holiday shopping. According to a 2013 Google study, people are making their wish lists — and shopping lists — earlier than ever.
In July 2013, nearly half of surveyed shoppers had already made plans regarding when they were going to purchase their gifts. For those actively planning, 30% were expected to start before Halloween and 9% were planning to start before Labor Day.
Those consumers starting their shopping earlier than ever are looking online to help them make up their minds, accessing the internet from a multitude of devices.
One major channel that is sure to impact retailers more than ever this season: mobile. eMarketer estimates that somewhere in the neighborhood of 18-20% of all holiday season sales this year will occur on mobile devices.
This trend doesn’t just hold true for large retailers. According to an Ink from Chasereport, small businesses are planning for mobile shoppers and adapting their mobile brand experiences to prepare for the busiest shopping season of the year.
The percentage of sales happening on mobile is a bit lower for small businesses – estimated at 13% in 2013 – as small business owners are still working to acclimate to consumers’ preferences and spending habits to ensure they get the biggest bang for their buck over the holidays.
Regardless of whether you are a large or small retailer, here are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to m-commerce and holiday shopping:
Consumers Want To Save Money
Consumers are continuously using their mobile devices to identify innovative ways to save money. According to data from Placed, receiving coupons, discounts and comparing prices were among the most common ways marketers used their devices to shop on Black Friday.
Pricegrabber shared insights last year that point to pricing comparison and deals as a main theme for mobile devices. In the survey of nearly 4,000 online shoppers conducted in October of 2013, 61 percent said they planned to download coupon apps for holiday shopping; 55 percent said comparison shopping apps; 54 percent intended to download apps from their favorite retailers; 50 percent said they would download Black Friday and Cyber Monday apps to search for the best deals; and 44 percent planned to download apps with the ability to scan barcodes (presumably for price comparisons).
Additionally, a Forrester study commissioned by RetailMeNot (PDF) this year found that 55% of smartphone coupon users will spend more money during their online or in-store visit than they originally anticipated. Forty-four percent will drop between $26 and $50 more, while 17% will spend an extra $50 or more.
Therefore, retailers should invest in mobile promotions and coupons to meet consumer demands.
Mobile Can Push Consumers Down The Purchase Funnel
Since mobile devices help close the gap between online and brick and mortar stores, retailers should look at mobile as yet another way to push consumers down the purchase funnel.
Tapad and Forrester’s recent study on the consumer’s path to purchase showed that 31 percent of customers who turned to digital channels for their last purchase used multiple devices along the way. And, interestingly, mobile was able to play a role in different parts of the funnel, though it was stronger earlier in the purchase process.
And consumers’ reasons for switching devices varied, Forrester found, though the quality of the user experience was the most common reason given.
When you adapt your holiday marketing for mobile, it is important to understand the role of mobile devices and how their unique engagement elements – such as click-to-call, swipe, or even showrooming – help to increase brand engagement and ultimately contribute to the sale.
Consider Tablets As Retail Breeding Grounds
While many people put tablets and smartphones in the same bucket, there are a few distinguishing factors that come into play when it comes to retail. Tablets, for one, are significant for m-commerce sales growth as they provide a more laid-back environment for browsing and purchasing.
Last year, eMarketer predicted that tablet retail m-commerce sales in the U.S. would hit $37 billion in November and December of 2014, while it expected that tablet purchases would account for 62.5% of overall U.S. retail m-commerce sales in 2013.
Interestingly, the smartphone piece of the m-commerce sales pie was only expected to come in at 35% last year. This number will likely shrink as sales on tablets maintain a far higher growth rate.
Take Advantage Of Mobile Ad Targeting
The amount of time and consumer activity that occurs on mobile devices is increasing, and as a result, mobile is quickly becoming a viable marketing channel for brands to reach, engage and influence their audiences.
Nielsen data points to multiple intent-based behaviors occurring on mobile devices such as researching, finding store locations, redeeming coupons and managing shopping lists.
Additionally, with cross-device targeting solutions now available, marketers can leverage signals of intent occurring on desktop and tailor messages across more than one device – laptops, smartphones and tablets.
The ability to extend your ad targeting strategies, specifically those that focus on intent such as site and search retargeting, to mobile represents a huge opportunity for marketers to reach and remain connected to consumers in the months leading up to the holidays.
It’s hard to believe that while we are only a few months away from the hustle and bustle of the holiday shopping season, it’s already time to get your mobile digital advertising strategy ready.